The World of Zinfandel

Every year, Vancouver hosts one of the biggest consumer wine festivals in North America. And I make sure to go, as this fantastic festival offers seminars, events and a tasting for consumers and wine professionals.

This year, I was able to attend the “World of Zinfandel” seminar masterclass. And what a fantastic experience.

We tasted through some amazing Zinfandel wines from Croatia, Italy and the USA. Did you know that this iconic American grown grape derived from Croatia? It’s also known as Primitivo in Italy; and is grown in many wine regions in California. Did you also know California has the highest quantity of Zinfandel vines planted than anywhere else, even Croatia?

If you are not a regular supporter of this grape, I challenge you to give it another try. You really need to try different regions and producers in order to taste the style differences. I believe I’ve just fallen for this grape, all over again!

In order, here is what we got to taste and experience:

Korta Katarina Rosé 2017 – A blend of 35% Zinfandel & 65% Plavac Mali (a cross between ancestral Zinfandel and Dobričić a local grape); soft, herbal, great acidity and so refreshing. And believe it or not it ages well (a rosé that ages, what?!).

Korta Katarina Reubens Private Reserve 2008 – Made solely of Plavic Mali – this was a mature wine, definitely an expression of the area with its chalky tannins.

Krolo Crljenak Kastelanski 2015 – Grown just 30 km from the Adriatic sea, these 15-year-old vines showed this 100% Zinfandel very well, with red and black fruits, nice balance of acidity and a fresh herbal note.

*Masseria Surani Dionysos Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2011 – From the region of Puglia in Italy, this Primitivo had intense, ripe fruits on the nose, with tertiary notes on the palate, dusty tannins, balance and vibrant acidity. The star means I liked it, lots!

Louis M Martini Monte Rossi Gnarly Vines Zinfandel 2009 – The Monte Rosso vineyard was planted originally in the late 1800’s in California – crazy to think about that isn’t it?! “This wine was sooo smooth, herbal, nicely balanced with acidity and deep red and black fruits, gorgeous” – from my seminar notes.

*Grgich Hill’s Estate Miljenko’s Old Vine Napa Valley Zinfandel 2014 – This winery also has a winery in Croatia, so they are connected to their roots. This Zin had tobacco notes, black fruits, again balanced with herbal notes. Super approachable!

Myself and Barb Wild a wine colleague

Hess Collection Artezin Mendocino County Zinfandel 2016 – This wine was made from 45-50 year old vines. A young and vibrant wine with good body, texture with red and black fruit notes, they use no oak to showcase the Mendocino, California – Zinfandel style.

Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2014 – These vines were planted in 1904 in this California region. What a pretty wine, which was blended with a touch of Petite Sirah and Carignan. It was spicy, with dark fruits and it was zippy. I love zippy.

Ridge Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel 2016 – Someone mentioned this with Pulled Pork or Ribs, and then I was hooked. Youthful, zippy (there it is again), spicy, red and black fruit profile with chalky tannins. Californ-i-a!

Lange Twins Centennial Zinfandel 2011 – The co-founder and farmer is a twin, hence the name. This is their 125th vintage from the vineyard. Typical bold style (from Lodi, California) Zinfandel – herbal, mineral, deep black fruits and gentle tannins, smooth and rich.

Klinker Brick Old Ghost Zinfandel 2015 – Not what you’re expecting, not what I was expecting! Smooth, pretty, floral, rich & lush. *102 year old vineyard. California beauty.


Until next time, keep exploring wines of the world.


A Spanish Cava Comes to Canada

Every year I attend the Vancouver International Wine Festival. To learn, to be inspired to write, and to share my experience in hopes of inspiring others to attend and learn more about wine.

I had one particular experience this year, that blew my expectations right out of the water.

“A Sparkling Experience” showcasing premium Cava from Juvé & Camps paired with a multi-course dinner at ARC Restaurant at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel.

It was a privilege to sit beside the winemaker, across from the export director, with my wine writer friend and with two well-known and respected local media personalities. And, we got to taste a line-up of beautifully made Cava that just arrived into Vancouver just 2 weeks earlier! These Cavas were a level above what we have tasted in the market. Their finesse and personality are very distinctive and such a delight to have, it made me appreciate Cava even more than I did.

A little about Juvé & Camps: started by the Juvé family in 1796, they now have 271 hectares in the Penedes region of Cava in Spain. Organic, hand harvested. Made in the méthode Champenoise in caves at the family estate winery that were built in 1921. They released their first Gran Reserva in 1972 followed by the Reserva de la Familia, making history as the most widely sold Gran Reserva Brut Nature cava in the world.

Cava, if you did not know, is the name for Sparkling wine in Spain. To be labelled “Cava”, it needs to be made of 3 grapes: Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada.

If the history of this winery isn’t enough to peak your interest, then have a look at the menu we enjoyed showcasing each wine with its perfect west coast pairing.

Zarzuela de Mariscos – mussels, pancetta, charred tomato and almond. Served with the 2015 Cinta Púrpura Reserva Cava. Aged 24 months in the bottle, on the palate it offered fresh fruit and a hint of flowers and toasted notes with a balance of all 3 grapes. Soft and just crisp enough to pair with the shellfish.

Grilled Local Octopus – smoked paprika vinaigrette with a potato terrine. Served with the NV Limited 40th Anniversary Brut Nature Cava. Aged 36 months in the bottle with the main grapes of Xarel-lo and Macabeu and 10% Parellada. Extra aging showed well with notes of toast, fresh fruit and hint of citrus in the background.

Quebec Foie Gras – torch sandwich with tea crisp, date jam, candied nuts. Served with the 2014 Essential 100% Xarel-lo. Crisp and lean with mineral and citrus notes were perfect to cut through the richness of the Foie Gras. Aged 24 months in the bottle this was such a delightful surprise – with notes of fennel, pear and mediterranean herbs and hint of yeast in the background. Outstanding, and my favourite of the evening!

Cordero Al Ajo Cabañil – garlic and cumin roasted lamb with preserved lemon. Served with the NV Brut Rosé made of 100% Pinot Noir. Aged for 9-15 months in the bottle, this fresh sparkling had notes of cherries, strawberries, hints of honey, toast and flowers. Although we were all a little apprehensive on the pairing, it danced with the spiced lamb perfectly!

Nova Scotia Lobster “Paella” – saffron sauce, shellfish risotto, sidestripe shrimp, blistered tomato and artichokes. Served with the 2013 Gran Reserva. Aged 42 months in the bottle with the dominant grape of Xarel-lo, then Macabeu, Chardonnay and 10% of Parellada. This showed absolute beauty in the glass, with many of the same notes, just much more creaminess from the mousse and a complex personality yet still very fresh.

Torrija Bread Pudding – cream catalans ice cream, almond streusel, dulce de leche. Served with the 2015 Milesimé Cava made of 100% Chardonnay. Aged for 24 months in the bottle, this was another delight. Complex and elegant with fresh peach and melon notes with a hint of honey, grapefruit and toast.  Delicious!

I highly recommend you seek out Juvé & Camps Cavas! Or better yet, start planning your next trip to Spain, call up the winery and make a reservation to do a tour (and take me with you)!

Enjoy getting to know Cava, cheers! 🙂